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Lithium

So, there it is. The word I’ve always dreaded.

My psychiatrist went ahead and prescribed it a little more than a week ago. I guess it seems like the Lamictal is not really stabilizing my moods anymore. I am ashamed of how I have become this aggressive beast whom I don’t recognize. I hate the way I lash out. I can’t stand how angry I stay. And then I want to cry…I think. Yet no tears come. I feel numb. And I want to do something (ANYthing) to make myself feel like I have a pulse. I feel like a walking dead person.

And then there are the feelings that are the non-negotiables as far as any psychiatrist worth his salt is concerned. The feelings that “one would be better off dead.” Ugh. Do I have a plan to harm myself or kill myself, well heck no!! It’s just that feeling of wishing I didn’t have to wake up for quite a number of days. Doesn’t anyone understand that??

I function. I go to work daily. I take care of my physical appearance. I still have a decent filter that keeps me from saying all the horrible stuff that comes to my mind. But I admit that I seem to hate people more. Not REAL hate, you know. Just the feeling of being fed up with most human beings. I mostly don’t want to be bothered. I mostly want to go home after work and wrap myself up in a blanket like a fajita or a big, fat burrito and read a book or watch some Netflix. I wouldn’t mind talking on the phone…but my husband does not approve of my best friend, so that’s out. And I no longer need a phone to talk to my sister since, thankfully, our families now live together.

The good news is that I no longer succumb to the insane shopping sprees that I used to years ago when I was first diagnosed. Whew! Or, at least I mostly don’t. Or, even if I splurge, I don’t spend what I can’t somehow recover. Or, like even if I spend 2 or 3 hundred dollars, it’s not like I spend money that is needed for a bill or something.

The other good news is that I don’t have those voices compelling me to do ridiculous stuff. Or at least even if I DO think crazy stuff, I KNOW it’s crazy and I don’t follow through on it. That should count for something. I guess I’m saying that I don’t have any extra diagnoses like paranoid schizophrenia. So, that’s good.

So why am I writing about this? Because even though this lithium stuff is going to help me with the depression and with the panic attacks and all…it’s not helping yet. I know it’s only been a little more than a week and I am still in the building up phase. I haven’t even been prescribed a full dosage, which I’m glad about since even with such a small amount in my system, I’m going around like a walking zombie. It’s crazy how you can still (almost) function normally, just at a very sloooooowwwww pace. I just feel sleepy and agitated that I can’t spend the day sleeping.

So, no it’s not really helping some of the impulsiveness. I know that I just finished saying that I don’t follow through on the crazy stuff. Yet twice on last week I did something unthinkable and I remember the moment in each situation where the “snap” occurred. It was like I knew both times that I had unexpectedly found myself in an enviable (yet integrity-compromising) situation. I was going to do the right thing, I think. Or at least I was telling myself that I w
ould. I want to think that I would have followed through on the right path, if it hadn’t been for that break. That MOMENT, you know. Sometimes you don’t even recognize the split second that it happens. BUT I DID. I specifically remember making a conscious decision to do what I should not.

And I did. I did what should have remained in the land of ugly possibility. And now it cannot be undone. And I don’t feel very confident that I will do better the next time. Not very confident at all.

In what ways will Lithium help me with things like this?

 

 

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Happy Birthday…I think

My birthdays tend toward melancholy and nostalgia. I know better, and yet that’s how it is. At my age, it is difficult not to look back on the “glory days” that, oddly enough I didn’t know may prove to be the highlights of my life. It’s equally difficult not to regret what projects still have not been finished, what words left unsaid, what relationships abandoned, what dreams yet unrealized.

And so, yet again it is time to reassess. Scrap unworthy goals and set new ones. Determine what is worth pursuing and what paths are better not following. With–statistically speaking–half my life already over, what will I now do? Where will I go, and with whom?

But while I would be lying if I said I don’t want to do more things than I have done, truthfully what I am finding more imperative each day, is HOW I DO THOSE THINGS. That is to say, even if I only do one small thing, did I do it with integrity? Did I persevere until I saw the results I was initially looking for? Or did I allow myself to be dissuaded by nay-sayers (even those that insist in hanging out in my own head)?

At this point in my life, more important than accuracy, or even consistency is authenticity. If there is one thing I will celebrate this year, it is the blessing of still being on the path to being my most authentic self, and showing as much grace and mercy to myself as I show to others. Whatever I do, I will do it with boldness and with tenacity and with joy. Because that is who I am. I will give my strength to what I believe I should (until I see things differently) and then if need be, I will change my course, because that is OKAY.

This year, I want to live unapologetically–even if I do so quietly. I will accept that I don’t have to be popular, neither on social media, nor in my real human interactions. I will cast out the fear of judgment and criticism of people who have never taken the time to get to know me. I will give myself the love that I know I deserve. I will be my friend. I will embrace every part of me, and wish me well.

So, I guess this is a happy birthday, eh? Happy Birthday, ol’ gal! Happy Birthday.

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This Do in Remembrance of Me

I see the green toweluntitled

     and I remember.

I more than remember.

A flood of smells, sounds and other sensations

     wash over me,

crashing upon my awareness for the thousandth time.

I stand still; experience tells me the waves will pass.

But for now I am moved.

I am more than moved.

 The unbidden waves of remembrance threaten to knock me down:

The movement of your body against mine, in mine.

You are drenched, spent in every way.

Panting, hardly able to catch your breath,

you plead simply,

“Prestame la toalla.”

I move obediently in the dark to obey.

My life is to obey…or so it was.

I am keenly aware of your every motion in the darkness:

You rub the musky towel vigorously over every part of your body,

and I want to help you:

Your hair, your back, your chest…

My life it to help you…or so it was.

You will be healed through the blood I have shed;

You will be happy through my tears.

And it is a fair exchange. The sweat of your brow

 has brought me to life

Tonight.

Today

I hold the green towel and I hear,

“This is my body that was broken for you…”

But something seems wrong with that thought.

The seemingly merciless waves have subsided

and I wonder why I am clutching this green towel.

I remember myself.

There are other things that must be done around here.

©2006

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BRAZEN, by Camelia Flores

51UZpSYF6rL__SS140_SH35_This is a book I wrote a couple of years ago, much to the embarrassment of some people dear to me. And yet, it is a story very dear to my heart. It is still for sale on Amazon; this cover is from the paperback version. If you do not understand Bipolar Disorder with extreme psychosis, paranoia, and schizophrenia, then you may not be prepared to read this short book. Your thoughts?

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This One’s Broke!

Broken-heart-15         This One’s Broke

At night, I take my heart out

and look at it.

I curse it for still loving you.

“What’s wrong with you?!” I ask.

And it just keeps on thumping

in spite of the pain.

“Don’t you know better than to hope?!” I ask.

And it just keeps on beating,

in spite of the disappointment.

“You may as well forget the past!” I insist.

But it just keeps on jumping,

in spite of the misery.

“Fool, don’t you realize you are BROKE?!” I scream.

And it just keeps on bleeding

and dreaming, and praying, and believing

even through the hurting.

 

Every morning I put it back; back in the hollow of my chest.

“There!” I say to it.

“You’re safely tucked in my breast; and no one

     can see that you are broke… if you just be still!

Stop all that racket, skipping with sill notions

     and leaping with hopes.

Doggonit! THAT’S what’s wrong with you now!”

(Tomorrow I’m gonna get a new one.

Because this one is just plain broke.)                                                                              1999

 

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Some thoughts on “Living in the Presence”

presenceAs I mentioned on the ABOUT page, I’m a book lover. For me there is NOTHING like a good read. I’d like to share with you a couple of my thoughts on a book I read back in 2007 when I was doing graduate work at Wake Forest. This post contains a piece of what I wrote back then:

I like the way Tilden Edwards takes hard subject matter and makes it seem almost as natural and easy as breathing.  In his book, Living in the Presence, he encourages us to remember that “each of us is an adventure of God’s Spirit.” What powerful and liberating words. What a refreshing thought.

For much of my life I have anguished over my vocation and my spiritual growth. What exactly am I suppose to be? Am I moving down the road quickly enough to make it there? Who can help and mentor me? Will my irredeemable faults like procrastination and lack of discipline finally prevent me from fulfilling whatever is my destiny? Why the hell does everyone else seem to be doing fine?!

Sometimes I have felt that indeed my own probing, contemplative mind has been the very key to my misery. I have sometimes wished rather to be one who is clueless, alien to the angst of ever-questioning, and ever searching.! What bliss there must be in the simplicity of not knowing that there are spiritual depths to be plumbed and spiritual mountains to climb. In this regard, the words of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in her Response to Sor Filotea deeply resonate with me: Although it has not worked in my favor, God has granted me the favor of loving truth above all else” (Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, in Poems, Protest, and a Dream, Introduction, xxvi).

And yet, here are Edwards’ words like fresh water for a weary traveler. I am one who has felt what he refers to as “a fever of our undernourished, deepest nature (9) and have tried to cure that fever through greater sensuality. I have sought gratification through educational and financial pursuits. I have tired to quell the deep aching, the longing, the incessant gnawing in the void…But Edwards’ words have a strange, settling effect even as I quiver in anticipation of more; will I be satisfied?

Will I be one who recognized that “contemplation is not an experience to be gained, but an eternal identity to be realized” (5)? If I faithfully put into practice the spiritual exercises he suggests, will I cease my attempt to “possess this way of being” in favor of “relinquishing [my]self into participation in it” (5)?

Edwards’ words open for us a plethora of possibilities. For instance, saying that we are an adventure of God’s spirit suggests that God may have already (happily) planned for more than one outcome! And adventure is like a pleasant experiment; pleasant because there are various anticipations not only about the end result, but about the experiment itself. Of course there are precautionary measures taken in advance to deal with those possibilities. there is precious little dread or trepidation in an adventure, but utter joy and delight in the promise of new discoveries. Is it possible that God could be like this? I for one like to imagine God this way!

Tilden Edwards’ book offers us much to think on and new ways to imagine God. It helps take the pressure off to accomplish something or get somewhere and enables us to slow down and enjoy the journey.